Rapha's Pro Team jacket combines a supremely good fit with a softshell material that fends off bad weather with ease. For cyclists who like to ride hard and fast all the time, the breathability and protection of this jacket is outstanding.
Yes it's expensive, but it's a serious investment for winter training if you're determined to not let the wind and rain stop you. And in this blue it looks really good; in my opinion it's the best-looking jacket Rapha has ever made.
Rapha use Polartec's Power Shield Pro softshell material for the front-facing panels in the chest, arms and shoulders. It's 99% windproof, and that 1% is the critical detail that gives this jacket its performance when you're going hard. It keeps most of the wind out, but lets just a little through and this gives the jacket superb heat management.
Meanwhile, providing insulation is a Super Roubaix material on all the rear facing panels. It's not as windproof as the Polartec stuff, so it lets a lot of the excess heat escape, further helping to keep your temperature under control. You can thunder down the road and you won't overheat in this jacket.
The fit is excellent. Though it's called a jacket, it has the fit, softness and comfort of a jersey, yet provides the protection you want from a jacket.
As for sizing, it's from Rapha's Pro Team range so it's really designed for racing snakes, though it is available right up to XXL. It's a slim fit, shaped nicely around the waist and shoulders, but with no hint of tightness or restriction of movement. For reference, the jacket pictured is a size small.
I often struggle getting jackets that fit comfortably. Small enough around the waist, but then too short in the arms. Not so with this jacket, the size small fitted everywhere just right. Enough length in the arms that the cuffs were comfortably placed at my wrists, and didn't ride up during cycling.
I always say it, but it's really worth trying this jacket on before you buy, as it does come up a bit smaller. That excellent fit and lack of bulk means there isn't any excess material to bunch up and billow in the wind. It's nice and streamlined.
There are a host of nice details that makes it a lovely place to spend a couple of hours. There's a high collar with a nicely off-set zip, and a little 'zip garage' so the puller doesn't irritate your neck. The elasticated cuffs form a good seal around the wrists and the slimness of the fabric means winter gloves slip right over the top easily.
You get three large rear pockets providing ample cargo space for a decent training ride, plus a small zipped side pocket for your house keys. Oh and there's a handful of reflective details scattered around the jacket too. It's these details that show that Rapha have invested time and effort in getting it spot on.
The Rapha Pro Team Jacket's performance in a range of conditions has impressed me. Wind, rain and the cold are easily dealt with. It's not technically waterproof, but the leading panels have a water repellant treatment, and there are taped seams just in the front panels, which for all but the wettest days means the jacket does a pretty fine job at keeping you dry.
It's not the warmest jacket I've ever tested, but then it's not really aiming to be the warmest jacket. It does rely on you for its warmth, riding at a steady and brisk pace, generating heat to keep your temperature up. You notice this if you stop for a mid-ride coffee or at the end of the ride, the chill can descend quickly. Keep moving though and it's fine.
That sounds like a criticism, and it might be if you're riding at leisurely speeds - other jackets will better cater for such riding - but I never once felt cold while riding at a brisk pace, which I do on most of my rides anyway. I feel the cold and generally keep the tempo high just to keep myself warm.
The breathability is really the jacket's trump card though. It can be really tricky getting the right jacket and the right layers to keep you warm, but avoid overheating, if you're riding fast in all weathers. The Pro Team jacket manages it better than most I've tested. Paired with a base layer to suit the conditions and a long sleeve mid-layer, I've found the perfect combination to tackle the typical range of weather and temperature conditions.
I've found a short base layer and long sleeve mid layer is good for roughly between 7 and 12 degrees, with a switch to a long sleeve base layer you can push into temperatures that plummet down to near freezing. In really heavy rain, a lightweight waterproof over the top keeps you protected. In that way it's a very versatile jacket that copes with anything the British winter can throw your way. And I reckon it'll be just the ticket when spring eventually rolls around, with the removal of the mid layer.
Which just leaves the price. Yes, it's a lot of money, but considering the level of performance, the comfort and excellent fit, quality of construction and the details, it's a solid investment. If you're a performance or racing cyclist and you want to invest in a jacket that will properly regulate your temperature, the Pro Team is a sound choice. It also looks great too.
Superb fit, fabric and features make this a stunning jacket for brisk riding. Looks smart too.
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Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Jacket
Size tested: small, bright blue
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A protective softshell outer layer with the comfort of a jersey, the Pro Team Jacket offers insulation, breathability and windproofing in a lightweight and streamlined design. Created for high-tempo riding in colder conditions, the jacket is ideal for winter training.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Polartec® softshell membrane on chest, shoulders and arms (exclusive to Rapha).
Super-Roubaix rear and underarm panels
Race fit with side panels
Reflective armband and trims
First class. Been punished loads, I've even crashed in it, and it still looks brand new.
For fast brisk riding the Pro Team strikes the perfect balance between insulation and breathability, backed up with decent weather protection.
As I've mentioned, it's stood up to plenty of punishment, even been crashed, and there's not a mark on it, and the stitching is all solid.
Super light build makes it feel more like a jersey than a regular jacket.
I'm giving it a good mark for value. Though £200 is a lot of money for a jacket, the Pro Team jacket offers outstanding performance and it costs less than similar jackets from the likes of Assos and Castelli, if of course the price is an issue when you're spending this sort of money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For fast paced riding the Pro Team gets the balance of weather protection and breathability just right.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Everything really, it even looks great in this blue
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's really nothing I can fault.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Already have.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A superb jacket. Thoroughly recommended.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.